Immediately Ensure Passage of Bill C-262: Letter to leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
11 June 2019
Hon. Andrew Scheer
Leader of the Opposition
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Immediately ensure Senate passage of Bill C-262
I am writing to urge that you, as Leader of the Opposition, ensure immediate passage through the Senate of Bill C-262, "An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."
It is alarming that some members of the Senate have been obstructing the passage of Bill C-262. We remind you that Senate that Bill C-262 was passed by the elected House of Commons on 30 May 2018 with a large majority. On 10 April 2019, after nearly a year of stalling in the Senate, the House of Commons passed a unanimous resolution pointing out that Bill C-262 had "been in possession of honourable Senators for many months...[and] should be passed into law at the earliest opportunity...." (emphasis added).
The Senate must act urgently to pass Bill C-262, including the full text of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as adopted in 2007 by the UN General Assembly and endorsed by Canada in 2010, including the UNDRIP's assurances of "free prior and informed consent" by Indigenous Peoples as set out in Articles 10, 11, 19, 28, and 29.
The obstruction of the passage of Bill C-262 by unelected Senators appears to be a deliberate attempt to halt the passage of the bill before Parliament is dissolved prior to the upcoming election. This signals unwillingness to remedy the most serious, ongoing human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples and indicates disregard of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Call to Action 43 which requires all levels of government to "to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation."
Continued blockage of Bill C-262 by a small minority of unelected members of the Senate is alarming in the face of Canada's severe, systematic and persistent violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and persons guaranteed by treaties binding on Canada, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
We note that the 3 June 2019 report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls included a specific call that Canada:
... immediately implement and fully comply with all relevant [international human] rights instruments, including but not limited to: [...] UNDRIP, including recognition, protection, and support of Indigenous self-governance and self-determination, as defined by UNDRIP and by Indigenous Peoples, including that these rights are guaranteed equally to women and men, as rights protected under section 35 of the Constitution. This requires respecting and making space for Indigenous self-determination and self-governance, and the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples to all decision-making processes that affect them, eliminating gender discrimination in the Indian Act, and amending the Constitution to bring it into conformity with UNDRIP (Calls for Justice, pp. 176-77).
We urge you to instruct all Senate members of your party immediately cooperate to pass Bill C-262 so that the Bill can return to the House of Commons for Royal Assent before the Bill dies on the order paper.
Catherine Morris, BA, JD, LLM
Director, Peacemakers Trust
Copied by email to all members of the Senate according to the list at https://www.peacemakers.ca/research/Canada/SenateCanadaFeb2019.docx.